Oh weddings. Those glamorous celebrations of love, religion and typically -- thanks to thousands of years of tradition and law -- heterosexuality. Even though it's not your day, going to a wedding as a queer can feel like all eyes are on you. What if the groom's aunt keeps trying to make you dance with her son? What do you do if you're a bridesmaid who has no idea how to walk in heels? How do you gussy up and still manage feel like yourself? We've read your formspring questions, sympathized and rounded up ten very fashionable grrrls and bois who've survived a wedding or two (or, in Robin's case, 300 in the past 10 years) and even figured out how to have fun. Think of them as your own personal queer fairygodpeople, here to turn your beaters into bowties for one just night.
How Could You Let This Happen? HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?
T’was the night before my college roommate’s wedding, when all through the house, you could hear me cursing because I’d lost my pants. I know. That doesn’t rhyme. But that’s pretty much what happened.
I got out of the shower, went to lay out my outfit and my pants weren’t there. I had engaged in no activities that could have warranted losing my pants. I swore by my entire being that I'd hung them up when I returned from Texas, their last known location. But they had vanished. I tore apart my apartment. I looked in my roommates’ closets. This was all to no avail. And it didn't help my stress level that I hadn't wrapped the gift yet. And I had no wrapping paper with which to do that. So. I woke up at the asscrack of dawn and made my way to 5th circle of hell that is the mall.
Malls are sweaty, noisy, commercial, and generally everything I hate in the world. But on this day I was humbled. I was reminded that if I wanted to get breakfast, wrapping paper, and pants all in one shot, that's what a mall is good for. Malls are good for fast and convenient. If there's one piece of advice I could give you from this experience, it's that malls suck until they don't. In a pinch, don't be afraid to pay this terrible place a visit. It’s better than attending a wedding in nothing more than your boxers.
I waited outside the locked gate at Express and as soon as they opened the gates to their lair, I marched in and announced, "ALL HANDS ON DECK. I LOST MY PANTS. I HAVE A WEDDING TO GO TO. I LEAVE IN TWO HOURS." It was a flurry of action. I handed over my vest and a small gaggle of gay men quickly began matching the colors. That's the second thing you need to remember when you have lost your pants. Bring the things you are matching. This may seem like common sense right now, but when you're in a tizzy you may not remember. Keep calm and grab the hanger.
The salespeople just kept following me around throwing pants at me and asking "How could this happen? HOW COULD YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?!" Which brings me to my third piece of advice for you who are buying clothes this last minute: go to a place that will dress you. The time for penny pinching and price comparison is over. You have already fucked this up too badly to stick to a hardcore budget. Pay a little extra than you normally might to have that lovely straight girl lob articles of clothing at you over the dressing room door. You are keeping that lovely straight girl employed and she will tell you if you look dapper or if you look like this:
This whole ordeal took about 15 minutes. By a) sucking it up and going to the whirling vortex of doom that is a New Jersey mall, b) remembering to bring the parts of my outfit I did not lose, and c) paying a little bit extra to have some very attentive, if slightly deprecating clothing experts put pants in my hands, I managed to get the present wrapped and make it to the wedding in time to have lunch before the ceremony. And my girlfriend and I looked adorable.
Finding The Shirt, or, the Adventures of a Last-Minute Groomswoman
Clothes shopping has always been stressful for me. Always. There's just something about very gender-divided spaces like malls and clothing stores that makes me feel really uncomfortable --men shop here and women shop here and never the twain shall meet. I identify as genderqueer and my clothing preferences tend to be more masculine-of-center, so finding clothes I'm comfortable wearing, particularly fancy clothes, has been something historically very tense for
So it's easy to say that weddings frightened me a lot. Whenever I was confronted with the idea of dressing up, I would always be washed over with a feeling of low-level panic. It was similar to that feeling I got when I walked through the women's section of Macy's at the mall: Oh god, all of these breezy, belted pink women's dresses are going to fly off the rack and make me put them on. This has never happened (fortunately), but the fact that I was expected on some level (culturally, familialy) to wear dresses at fancy occasions had made me feel really uncomfortable
with fancy occasions in general.
When I was asked to be a groomswoman at my friends Megan and Jon's wedding, I felt really honored to be a part of the wedding party. And I felt particularly touched when Megan immediately told me that I could wear a tie and pants and a men's dress shirt. It was the absolute best situation I could have ever asked for.
The only problem was that due to some last-minute wedding craziness, Megan wound up asking me to be a groomswoman 72 hours before the wedding.
I originally planned to go with a look I had perfected at another pair of close friends' wedding I had attended earlier in the summer. I had all my wedding-proof items of clothing packed in my suitcase only to find that, to be a groomswoman, I needed two more items: A men's dress shirt in a very particular shade of "horizon blue" and a black skinny tie.
In 72 hours, Jessie, my fiancée, and I had to drive from Ann Arbor to Traverse City. There I would attend the wedding rehearsal dinner, crash in the wedding-sanctioned hotel and buy myself new groomswoman clothes the day of the wedding. It was a tight timetable, but I had learned over the course of getting more and more comfortable with clothes shopping that:
1. I can't rush myself. Panicking over finding the right item of clothing right now doesn't help anyone, particularly me. If I panic over finding the right shirt and end up being impatient and going with the first thing I see, I will be uncomfortable the whole wedding day -- physically (if the shirt doesn't fit my hips for instance) and mentally (I'll be worrying I look visibly uncomfortable).
2. If clothes don't fit my body the way I want them to (like if a shirt has shoulder seams that are too wide for my shoulders or a button-down shirt fits well everywhere except my hips), I will not blame my body for being the wrong shape. Blaming my body is just bad news all around and makes the whole experience horrible. As Jessie has told me, if the clothes don't fit, your body isn't wrong. The clothes are wrong.
One thing I have learned about mall shopping for dress clothes: Expensive brand names aren't necessarily the best way to go. When I was looking for dress pants for the wedding, we tried out places like Express and American Eagle for the right pair of skinny dark jeans, and I found that many brand-name places have their clothing cut for a particular body type. Usually this means that the pants I tried on were cut very slim in the hip (and I have hips) and since I'm also a little taller than average (5" 8') the pants made me look a little like I was dressing up in children's clothes.
It was hard not to rush, honestly. It turns out the David's Bridal color "horizon blue" is an amazingly particular color, so we went through the whole of the men's section with a swatch of "horizon blue" on my phone and compared it to all of the shirts. I was on one side of the men's dress shirt section and Jessie was on the other, and we'd hold up shirts for the other to see. "No, I think horizon blue has a little more green in it," Jessie would say when I offered up a shirt. "Actually, I think it's a little lighter than that," I would say when she found something.
I tried on a few shirts, and most of them left us both with a "meh" look on our faces. Something wasn't right — the shoulder length, the wideness at the hips, the length of the shirt itself, the length of the sleeves. I was frustrated at this point. Frustrated that my hips were too big, that my shoulders were too small, that my arms were too short.
And then we found it: The Shirt.
It was the right shade of blue, and it fit my shoulders and hips. It was a J. Ferrar men's slim-cut medium shirt. It was the perfect shade of horizon blue. I got out my vest and tried it on, tucked in the shirt and looked in the mirror. It looked sharp, it looked good. Jessie ran out to get a black medium skinny tie, and we held it up to the mirror. Perfect. The shirt cost $25, the tie was $20. It was the best wedding outfit I could have ever found in two hours.
We ate a quick lunch at a faux-Panera at the mall, and rushed back to the hotel to finish wrapping our wedding presents. In the wedding pictures, I look tired but dapper, grinning in my vest and tie next to the groom. I look comfortable. I look proud. Mostly? I look happy.
Dressing Center of Center
The balancing act that is your Wedding Outfit should be, above all things, comfortable. In my opinion, if you’re uncomfortable, you’re not “doing you”. I recently had to dress myself for my brother’s wedding (and rehearsal dinner) and I have lots of feelings about balance. Julie Bowen’s look for the Billboard Music Awards this past May almost hit the androgynous nail on the head: white blazer with black slim-fitting dress pants/trousers. I used this mostly as my inspiration, and found the perfect White Aqua Blazer from Bloomingdale’s and took it to my local tailor who fashioned a button enclosure at the bottom so I could have the option of closing it.
After that, it was finding pants. For me, Zara always comes through. It’s a great store for dress pants and also jackets/blazers in general. Just saying.
Shoes. There’s always the question of what to do with the shoes... we could go with a Womens Oxford shoes, plain black flats, or maybe even a Fancy Sperry Top-Siders? I went with black heels. I like to be taller than people and I knew they would look great with the slim black Zara pants.
For the rehearsal dinner I settled on a pink button-down (from Uniqlo) with black jeans (also from Uniqlo) and my usual worn-in boots.This turned out to be the most comfortable thing I’ve ever worn to a wedding. There’re a million ways to go about dressing your alternative lifestyle. Look! I made a mood board for you! I find it helpful (and the most fun) to combine elements from both mens and womens fashion. Consider balance and have fun with getting fancy because there are no rules. Just you doing you.
The Cockiest Cocktail Dress
So, you've been invited to a wedding! Congratulations! Somebody in your life found their soul mate (or got pregnant at a bad time) and wants you to celebrate it with them! If you're anything like me, the downside to that tacky ribbon-and-bowed invite is simple: unlike holidays of import such as your own day of birth, weddings have absolutely nothing to do with you. But inside of every wedding invitation are some subtexts that can actually be great -- "please drink on my dime" and "even though I'm straight my photographer will be a hot lesbian" being two of them.
To be honest, the entire premise of going to a wedding horrifies me. I'm 22, single and gay, meaning that weddings are a still-unfamiliar concept in my life, a complete invalidation of my position in the world, and irrelevant to about 99.9 percent of my friends living in the continental United States. Then I was invited to one and the temptation of an open bar won out over my queer separatist tendencies. I buckled. But if agreeing to celebrate hetero marriage was hard, getting dressed was about thirty seven and a half times worse.
Would I wear my purple Ralph Lauren dress that makes me look like an absolute sexpot, doing all I could to prove that even if I was single, I was the hottest girl at the party? Maybe I would go with black to convey a general sense of apathy for the occasion and a subtle mourning for every gay wedding that wouldn't happen that day. I debated pants, but decided the whole "too masculine for traditional wedding gear" schtick was less important than my deep-seated anxieties about dress pants and whether or not they make me look like the douchiest person on Earth. I wondered if I could wear flat sandals or dress shoes to seem cavalier and unimpressed, or if I had to wear heels to seem like I knew how to look at a wedding in the first place. I stared at my clothing rack for a couple of minutes/hours/days, poked around and around and thought about that episode of Sex & the City where Carrie goes to the baby shower and nobody understands what the fuck she's doing with her life. I prepared emotionally and mentally for the judgmental stares of people I knew in high school, the barrage of questions about how many boys I've met at school from people my mother's age and the fact that a priest and I would somehow soon share a space.
What aided in this decision was a realization that came somewhere in the middle of my third suitcase of clothes I never wore but saved just in case: that going to a wedding didn't mean reinventing the wheel and that the simple act of being myself at one might be enough. Why did I have to worry about what I was wearing? Every day I wake up and I wear something moderately appropriate for the day that makes me look better than everyone else. Why not do that all over again on someone else's special day? I had nothing more to prove than any other day in my life. After all, I wasn't going to this wedding because I was the marrying kind. I was going because I was the boozing kind!
I thought about the absolute hilarity of me, a writer for The Revolution, being invited to a pure, unadulterated celebration of heterosexual tradition. I thought about how important it was that gay people attend weddings in the first place, lest we eventually have them thrust upon us as well, and take notes on how to do it better. I remembered that eventually in that episode Carrie realizes shoes are better than babies. I realized that it's hard to hate from outside the club and this was my chance to really laugh deeply from the inside.
And so I went with a black cocktail dress from H&M, a super-in-your-face gaudy silver bracelet and necklace and a ring I'd gotten in high school from my goth bisexual friend who loved jewelry and stones. The dress squeezed at the waist, actually covered my boobs and had a flowy piece of fabric at the front that framed my figure in a near-perfect fashion. I put on sandals with a slight heel, put my iPhone and NARS lipstick into a black structured clutch and slipped on my vintage menswear inspired frames. The outfit was perfect: feminine, but with my own queer vibe. It was like the mere act of cleaning up so well demonstrated to the world that I was the baddest bitch in the room, God's house or not. I walked with my eyes wide open, my lips slightly parted and my chin up. I took it upon myself to make every single person at that wedding feel outshined and outdone. After all, I had to prove in the name of all gay women that we were just as fabulous, just as beautiful and just as wedding-ready as the rest of the sex-crazed single women waiting for the bouquet. And even if I didn't have to, I did.
And after all that overthinking and overanalyzing and overcontextualizing about what it would mean for me to be the one-woman pride parade at my childhood friend's wedding reception, it was kind of magical to be able to feel that good. It was like looking that great made it possible for me to feel at home there, as if I belonged, as if I was prepared. I was able to be a good friend -- and then later I had the opportunity to perform my one-woman take on "N****s in Paris" on the dance floor during a second round of cake.
And I fucking killed it.
Who run the world! Gays.
So you're at a wedding. Surrounded by old people you don't know and heteronormative traditions that you don't understand.
You're left wondering what your "committment ceremony" is going to look like and whether or not people will pay it the same respect as a traditional wedding. And then you realize you're sitting at a rehearsal dinner daydreaming about rainbows and women in tuxes and when you open your eyes you see that you're the only women in a collared button down and the only person there in off-white skinny jeans.
Let's face it, you look fly.
Which explains why the groom's sister is suddenly shy around you.
Chances are, at least in my experience, you're the only gay at the wedding and the families gathered on this momentous occasion might not fully understand your people's culture. Which is absolutely fine. Be the magical unicorn that you are and make people think; it's good for them!
In going through a boi-girl's wardrobe options I've come to a solid conclusion: We get a pass on heterosexual customary clothing. We for sure don't own skirts, or dresses (I mean, it's ok if you do but let's all admit how awkward we look walking in heels). And our preferred style of dress is quite hipster in nature (at least in LA). Accessories aplenty: sunglasses, tie, suspender, bow ties, beanies, a scarf. And let's not forget skinny jeans and a good eye for dope sneakers.
Thanks to Ellen, the common folk realize that lesbians look dope in dressy clothing and a pair of kicks. We rock jeans like a motherfucker. So I've also approved black skinny jeans for weddings. Make sure your top half is dressy; a nice ironed shirt, a vest, a tie or bow tie, accessories (duh!), etc.
I know it's non-traditional, but so are we. There are no traditional lesbian clothes for weddings so let's just make it up, someone has to!